Lack of Staff Keeps Toast Bar Closed

The BDN and Press Herald have posted reports on Scratch’s decision to keep their Toast Bar closed due to a lack of staff.

Here’s an excerpt of what Scratch wrote on Instagram,

Unfortunately with the current labor shortage we just can’t find the staff to provide the experience and service to our customers that is so important to us.

It is an extremely difficult decision and one that admittedly feels a bit like defeat because who likes to disappoint folks who want their toast!? But we‘re going to double down at the bakery on Willard Square where we, of course, will have all the bagels, breads, sweet treats, savory eats, coffee and good cheer you can handle.

We plan to revisit reopening sometime in the spring…

A Cider Revival

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram, reports on the growing interest in cider developing in Maine.

The introduction of mass-produced hard ciders, along with the growing farm-to-table movement and renewed interest in rediscovering old apple varieties, helped pave the way for the new cider movement. Americans who were already developing more adventurous palates decided that if they could embrace a whole new world of craft beer, why not give hard cider a try, too? By 2014, Maine was seeing a significant increase in the number of people applying for licenses to become commercial hard cider makers, according to the state Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations. By 2017, 11 new cider makers had opened for business. Maine now has 18 licensed cideries.

Salmon Lawsuit

The Press Herald reports that the owners of the Hunt and Alpine Club have brought a lawsuit alleging price fixing in the market for Atlantic Salmon.

The lawsuit by Portland Hunt + Alpine Club alleges that salmon prices have risen over the last four years when they should have been falling. According to the filing in federal court in Maine, the costs associated with raising Atlantic salmon have been mostly stable since 2015, production has increased and the market has shrunk because Russia banned salmon imports in retaliation for the U.S. and some European countries imposing economic sanctions following Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimea.

Restaurant Impossible Return

The Press Herald reports that Restaurant Impossible will be revisiting Uncle Andy’s in South Portland. The show did an episode featuring Uncle Andy’s in 2014.

Robert Irvine and the rest of the show’s restaurant makeover crew came to Uncle Andy’s in 2014, infusing the diner with a new look, new color scheme and some new menu items. On Monday, they will be back to do another segment on the place, basically a look at how Uncle Andy’s has been doing since its TV makeover.

Vegan School Lunches

The Bangor Daily News has published an article about the vegan lunches available to students in Portland public schools.

This school year, Portland Public Schools unveiled new vegan lunch options at elementary schools — a rotating menu of falafel and brown rice, roasted carrot “hot dogs” and lentil-based sloppy Joes alongside its traditional meat-based fare. The vegan program replaces a vegetarian option that had been in place since 2011.

Congress Bar & Grill Changing Hands

Restaurateurs, Jason Loring and Mike Fraser, are in the process of buying Congress Bar & Grill.

They plan to keep the restaurant’s casual feel and will be putting in place an approachable “tavern style” food that will be a departure from the menu at Nosh. They aspire to have a great bar with great food that balances value and quality serving lunch and dinner. Loring shared he’s dedicated to keeping the restaurant an affordable alternative place to eat in the city.

Loring and Fraser plan to close the restaurant for a couple months for some renovations to the space. It will re-open under the name CBG. The atmosphere they’re aiming for is “like your eccentric uncle’s basement bar”. The reconfigured CBG will open the space and make the bar more a focal point.

Loring is in the process of recruiting a chef for Congress Bar & Grill. If you’re interested in interviewing for the position, email

The restaurant at 617 Congress Street began life as Norm’s Bar & Grill and changed names to Congress Bar & Grill in 2011 when the ownership changed.

Pat’s, Skordo, Anania’s

Here are a few more updates on closings, expansion and ownership changes:

  • Anania’s Variety has announced they plan to close their store on Broadway in South Portland. According to their post on Instagram, Anania’s had sold that store to another owner a year ago and that individual has decided to move on.
    Historical Note: Anania’s was originally founded by Joseph Anania in 1956 as the Newbury Street Market and was located on Newbury Street.
  • The Press Herald reports that Pat’s Pizza on Market Street has changed hands. Pat’s will temporarily close as part of the transition.
  • Old Port kitchen store Skordo has announced plans to open an additional location at the Maine Mall